It's been over a month since Thailand's army overthrew the country's elected government in a coup d'etat. In that short time, the new ruling junta has secured almost total control over the country and succeeded in silencing most of its critics. Thailand has quickly come to resemble a police state, as hundreds of people have been detained, "invited to talk," or "given time to meditate," as the junta puts it. Most are released after a week — at which point they have signed a document indicating their promise not to oppose the coup, or face years in jail. Others have been sent to military courts for judgment, where no appeal is allowed. Authorities have offered cash rewards for anyone who can bring them a photo of their fellow citizens taking part in anti-coup activities. Hand salutes, eating sandwiches, and reading controversial books in public are now illegal if they are considered to be motivated by anti-coup sentiments, and the media continues to be heavily censored.
The junta says 90 percent of Thais support the coup — which is a questionable number, having come from their own surveys. But there is no doubt that many citizens do support the coup, and feel that only the junta is able to eradicate corruption, stop crime, and keep the peace. VICE News spent the past few weeks with two young Bangkokians who hold different perspectives on their country's shifting politics. One is a pro-coup supporter who believes the army's move was necessary to restore order. The other is a young student activist bent on having his voice heard, even under the threat of detention.